Adam Peaty: ‘My trunks once ripped on the starting blocks when I was a teenager’

Born in Staffordshire, Adam Peaty, 27, became a world, European and Commonwealth champion swimmer. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, he broke his own world record in the 100m breaststroke final and claimed Team GB’s first gold medal. In last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, he won two golds and a silver. He is the world record-holder for the 50m and 100m breaststroke. Last year, he competed in Strictly Come Dancing and released a motivational book, The Gladiator Mindset. He lives in Leicestershire with his partner, Eiri Munro, and their son.

What is your greatest fear?
Becoming stagnant.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I hate how much of a perfectionist I am.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Not realising their potential.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
My trunks ripped on the blocks at one of my biggest meets as a teenager. I was 17. I stopped, got into some tiny trunks and raced. I won – it must have been the adrenaline.

What is your most treasured possession?
My Olympic medals.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I used to hate my teeth until I had a brace, but even now I am still not completely happy with them.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
When anyone asks me how I am, I always say “good”, even if I’m not.

Which living person do you most despise, and why?
People who make false promises, especially about climate change. We’ve all got a duty to look after our planet.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
When I was young, someone said that they didn’t think I was going to make it. But I am not going to call them out.

Would you choose fame or anonymity?
Anonymity, 100%.

What do you owe your parents?
A lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of medals – pretty much everything.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
To the people who, because of my career, I cannot spend time with. I have to be selfish, unfortunately.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
Hasn’t everyone?

How often do you have sex?
Not enough.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
I was on a cliff in Dartmoor, doing a Royal Marine abseil. I fell upside down and thought, “I’m going to die here.”

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
More time.

What keeps you awake at night?
The realisation that I am not the best version of myself.

Would you rather have more sex, money or fame?

How would you like to be remembered?
As a great man.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
There’s always more – more effort, more reps; you can dig deeper than you ever thought you could.

What happens when we die?
Hopefully we get to rest!

Tell us a joke
My dancing!